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8 Free Things to Do in Galveston

Updated 540 days ago

1. Galveston Island Ferry … Galveston Ferry Landing
The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry takes travelers on SH 87 between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. One vessel is in operation 24 hours per day. A second vessel will be placed in service at 6:30 a.m.

After this departure, the two vessels will operate based on traffic volumes, and will space themselves to carry traffic as efficiently and safely as possible. A third vessel will be placed in service during the afternoon period in necessary. Up to five vessels may be operated for summer and holiday traffic.

To view current ferry wait times and live cameras, visit the Houston Transtar website. To receive updates and the latest news regarding the ferry, follow Galveston Ferry on Twitter --

For additional information or special needs, please call (409) 795-2230.

2. La King’s Confectionery
La King's Confectionery is your connection to a bygone era, dating back to the 1920s when James H King began learning the candymaking art as an apprentice at the St. Regis Confectionery in Houston. La King's features a 1920s soda fountain, serving malts, shakes, ice cream sodas, sundaes, splits and floats.

Let La King's master candymaker will delight you with his old time specialties – peanut brittle, divinity, pecan pralines, hand-dipped chocolates, fudges, and famous salt water taffy made right before your eyes on antique equipment. They make more than 40 candies from traditional recipes, just waiting for you!

La King’s is located at 2323 Strand. For more information, call 409-762-6100.




3. Saengerfest Park
Show off your chess skills on the large, playable chess set at Saengerfest Park on the corner of 23rd Street and The Strand in Galveston's Historic Strand District.



Saengerfest Park is known for its wooden benches, an old-fashioned London-style phone booth, and a stage used for movie and music nights throughout the year. The park also hosts a number of events associated with Island festivals, including Dickens on The Strand, Mardi Gras! Galveston, and more.

The park takes its name from Saengerfest, a biennial singing contest sponsored by German immigrant choral societies around the State of Texas in the 19th century. The park is a project of George & Cynthia Mitchell and is inspired by their same spirit of civic celebration.

4. Galveston Waterfront
Pier 21 is a waterfront entertainment and dining area located on Galveston's historic harbor in The Historic Strand Seaport Area. It offers a variety of attractions and restaurants, and plenty to see on foot.

Pier 21 offer views of Galveston's historic working harbor. Visitors often see cruise ships, harbor tours, shrimp boats, and tug boats hard at work as well as frequent dolphin and marine wildlife sightings.

Be sure to check out the shrimp boats adjacent to the Texas Seaport Museum at 2200 Harborside Drive, and marvel at the pelicans that roost there throughout the day and night.

5. Rosenberg Library
The Rosenberg Library, successor to the Galveston Mercantile Library which was founded in 1871, is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation.

With funding provided through a bequest from Henry Rosenberg, the Rosenberg Library Association was organized in 1900 as a private corporation to give free library service to all Galvestonians. Since its incorporation the institution has been governed by a board of twenty trustees, who meet annually to elect a nine-member board of directors.

The Rosenberg Library opened in 1904. A year later it absorbed the collections of the Galveston Public Library, thus formalizing its new role as the public library for the city of Galveston.

From the beginning, the Rosenberg Library has been more than a simple book repository. Its early history reflects its cultural importance. Led by the board of directors, the first librarian, Frank C. Patten (librarian from 1904 to 1934), initiated several programs that emphasized community involvement. Early lecture series, for example, often attracted audiences of 700. Patten and the board worked together to develop collections that went far beyond the scope of most public libraries.

As a result of their work and that of succeeding boards and staff, the library has compiled outstanding collections of manuscripts, maps, artifacts, and printed items. The Galveston and Texas History Center, for example, collects materials relating to Galveston and early Texas. Major manuscript collections include the papers of Samuel May Williams, Gail Borden, John Grant Tod, Jr., and James Morgan; the records of several nineteenth and early twentieth century businesses, including those of Harris Kempner, Henry M. Trueheart, and J. C. League; the records of several organizations and churches in the area; and twentieth-century collections reflecting recent events and activities in Galveston and the upper Gulf Coast. The map collection includes maps and charts of Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and adjacent coasts dating from the sixteenth century to the present.

Holdings of the museum department include historical artifacts pertaining to Galveston or early Texas, paintings of Galveston subjects or by such local artists as Julius Stockfleth and Boyer Gonzalez, and a sizable collection of Russian and Greek icons. The Fox Rare Book Room contains incunabula, first editions, and examples of fine printing.

The library staff and boards of directors have continued the tradition of varied library services. In addition to developing special collections and circulating over 250,000 books annually, the library offers art and historical exhibits, lectures, film series, computer classes, and meeting facilities for over 100 groups a year. Since 1941 the city and county of Galveston have contributed to the support of the library. About three-fourths of the operating budget comes from public funds, while the remainder derives from private endowments and gifts.

The Rosenberg Library is the headquarters library for the Galveston County Library System, a structure in which the head of the Rosenberg Library is also the county librarian.

In 1967 the library board of directors launched a campaign to build a wing that more than doubled the size of the original library building. Funded by the Moody Foundation and countless gifts from other sources, the Moody Wing opened in 1971, 100 years after the Galveston Chamber of Commerce established the Galveston Mercantile Library.

Rosenberg Library offers free Wi-Fi and computer services to the public. The Rosenberg Library Computer Lab offers forty adult and two children's computer workstations. Each workstation is networked directly into our 100mbps LAN and our T1 Internet connection. Wireless connection is available for use by patrons with personal laptop computers. The Computer Lab also provides black-and-white and color printers, with a small per-page printing fee. Computer usage is free.

The I.T. Staff offers individual assistance with the use of the computers. Please call 763-8854, ext. 130 for additional details.

Hours of Operation

  • Main Library: Monday thru Saturday: 9am - 6pm
  • Computer Lab: Monday thru Saturday: 9:30am - 5:45pm
  • Galveston & Texas History Center: Tuesday thru Saturday: 9am - 6pm

6. East End Historical District
The East End Historical District is comprised of over 50 city blocks bounded on the south by Broadway, the east by 10th Street, the north by Mechanic Avenue and the west by 19th Street. The District has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Take a few minutes to walk the tree lined streets of the District and experience the charms of Galveston's "Gilded Age" of charm. Hear the clip-clop of a horse drawn carriage and note the architectural details of the fine homes...a towering pillar, shadowed silhouettes of ornate carvings, a splash of stained glass in a window, welcoming porches or a bit of wrought iron fencing.

The architecture of the East End Historical District reflects a variety of styles and periods, the earliest being examples of Greek Revival style built during the 1850's. Early residents represented an economic and social cross-section of the community, also expressed in the dwellings which range from small, simple cottages to large, elaborate houses.

Its rugged old homes, having withstood the test of time and the elements, now respond miraculously to the face lifting efforts of the carpenter and painter. In just a few years this area has turned from a progressively bleak pattern of decay into a thriving, livable neighborhood enjoying increased property values and desirability. Besides its lovely homes, the area offers other advantages for it's resident...a cultural and ethnic mix that enriches the quality of life, several fine schools to serve the young residents as well as close proximity to Galveston's business district, University of Texas Medical Branch, and the Historic Strand District.

7. Tree Sculptures
On September 13th, 2008, Hurricane Ike covered most of the Island in a tidal surge. The damaging combination of powerful wind and waves immediately uprooted many trees, but ultimately the salty storm waters led to the demise of the thousands of others. Ike forced Galveston to say a sad goodbye to so much of its beautiful tree canopy.

Years later, sculpture artists have breathed second life into something Mother Nature attempted to destroy. Whimsical sculptures have replaced the majestic oaks that once lined many neighborhood streets and shaded homes. Tucked into gardens and nestled in side yards the sculptures are there for the public to enjoy.

Stop by the Galveston Visitors Center located at Ashton Villa for a complimentary Tree Sculptures brochure for a map of all of the sculptures, or click here to download.

8.  The Strand Historical District
The proximity of the Cruise Ship Terminal to Galveston's historic downtown district provides an opportunity to embark on a brief adventure prior to or following a cruise. The downtown area offers an intriguing selection of shops, restaurants, galleries, and museums within a perfect radius for self-guided tours.

Start near the corner of 25th and Strand directly across from the Galveston Island Railroad Museum, one of the nation's most popular rail museums. Take about 30-45 minutes to enjoy all the fascinating displays.

Back on The Strand, take some time to enjoy the variety of shops in the district's beautiful historic buildings, many of which survived the 1900 Storm, regarded as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

For a taste of Galveston, visit the great restaurants along The Strand or on the waterfront. Find everything from Greek and Mexican to Italian and, of course, fresh Gulf Coast seafood.

On the bay side of Harborside, on Pier 19, find the Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center and Museum. Step aboard and explore the offshore rig and learn how oil and gas are produced offshore. The museum features interactive displays and models.

Walking back toward the terminal, find the Pier 21 Theater featuring THE GREAT STORM, THE PIRATE ISLAND OF JEAN LAFITTE, and GALVESTON: GATEWAY ON THE GULF.

Next door, find the Texas Seaport Museum and Tall Ship ELISSA. At the museum, look up ancestors in a one-of-a-kind computer database with information on over 133,000 immigrants who entered the United States through Galveston. Adjacent to the museum is the Tall Ship ELISSA, deemed one of America's treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Allow at least 25-30 minutes at each site.

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Article written by Robert Stanton - Isle Guy